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Sustainable business model adoption among S&P 500 firms: A longitudinal content analysis study

Ritala, Paavo, Huotari, Pontus, Bocken, Nancy, Albareda, Laura, Puumalainen, Kaisu
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.170 pp. 216-226
business enterprises, corporations, models
In this study, we examine the diversity of sustainable business models adopted by the largest global corporations — those listed in the S&P 500 index — over the period 2005–2014. We examine press release communications during this period, which represent public data about business-relevant events. We expect that examining this communication can reveal longitudinal patterns in the adoption of sustainable business activities and models. Empirically, we utilize academic and practitioner expert panels to build a set of keywords across nine sustainable business model archetypes and utilize automated content analysis to examine the breadth and nature of a firm's sustainable business activities and practices. We find evidence of the increasing prominence of different types of sustainable business models over time. In particular, the results show that large capitalized firms have mostly adopted the environmentally-oriented archetypes, and to much lesser extent the societal and organizational ones.